Topic: BW - Vic
Boer War - Victoria
Contingents sent, 1899 - 1902
In 1911, Lieutenant-Colonel P. L. Murray, produced a marvellous Boer War reference detailing all the contingents sent from Australia to South Africa, giving a brief history of the formation and finally, listing all the soldiers who saw service in South Africa with that unit. The book was called, Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa. It is now the standard reference and starting place for any person interested in pursuing information about Australian involvement in the Boer War.
Murray, P. L., Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa, pp. 211 - 213.
On the 28th September, 1899, and following days, a Conference of Military Commandants was held at Victoria Barracks, Melbourne. This had been convened at the invitation of the Government of Victoria for the purpose of submitting a scheme for the consideration of the various Governments, by which, should they decide to do so, a United Australian Military Contingent could be organized for service in South Africa in the event of a war with the Boers.
Major-General Sir Charles Holled Smith, K.C.M.G., Commandant, Victoria.
Major-General G. A. French, C.M.G., Commandant, New South Wales. Major-General Hunter, Commandant, Queensland. Colonel G. H. Chippindall, Commandant, Western Australia. Colonel W. V. Legge, Commandant, Tasmania. Colonel J. Stuart, Commandant, South Australia.
Colonel J. C. Hoad, A.A.G., Victoria.
It was decided (inter alia) that in the opinion of the Conference the necessary Acts should be passed without delay by each of the several Colonies to enable their respective Military Contingents to act, either as a combined force or otherwise, for service outside Australia.
Further, that pay should be recommended on the following scale:-Gunners and privates, 4s. 6d. per diem ; acting bombardiers, 5e.; bombardiers, Bs. 6d.; corporals, 7a.; sergeants, 8s.; coy. sergeant-majors, 8s.; staff sergeants, 10s.; warrant officers, 11s. 6d.
And that a force of about 5,000 of all ranks should be sent, divided as follows -New South Wales 745, viz. - Horse Artillery 120, Cavalry and Mounted Rifles 300, Infantry 265, Department Corps and Engineers 60. Queensland-Mounted Rifles and Machine Gun Section, 278. South Australia 140, namely-mounted Rifles 40, Infantry 80. Tasmania-Infantry 160. Western Australia - Infantry, 160. Victoria, 543; thus disposed-Mounted Rifles 198, Infantry 345. General Staff, 30, to be made up amongst the Colonies.
No result followed, however, other than that when the war broke out, an Australian Regiment was formed (for details of which see let Victorian Contingent). This was an administrative, not a consolidated battalion.
Victoria passed the following enabling Acts:-63 Vict. No, 1619 (Victorian Military Contingent Act), enabling forces to be raised under Defences and Discipline Acts, and to come under Imperial Army Act of '81, when serving with Her Majesty's regular troops. £30,000 was appropriated for this purpose. 63 Vict. No. 1627 appropriated £35,000 for the purposes of a second Contingent; 63 Vict. No. 1656 appropriated £30,000 for a third Contingent; 64 Vict. No. 1698 appropriated £45,000 for further Contingents. 63 Vict. No. 1640 authorized contributions by Municipal Councils, banks, and other bodies towards military Contingents, or any members thereof, or their relatives, or in aid of the Patriotic Fund.
Camp Of Instruction.
The Camp of Instruction where the various Contingents were stationed, under Colonel Otter and other selected and experienced officers and staff-sergeants, prior to being despatched to the theatre of war, was at Langwarrin. There the men, after having been tested and enrolled, were drilled, trained, organized, disciplined, clothed, equipped, and supplied with horses. When the celerity with which the battalions were raised and sent away is considered, it may readily be judged that more than ordinarily strenuous exertions •must have been made by all concerned, including the Commissary and Veterinary Departments and the embarkation officers, whose duty it was to see that all was in readiness on board the transports.
Not a great deal of instruction was required for the earlier Contingents, because the officers and men were mostly drawn from the local regiments ; but in the case of the Bushmen's and successive battalions, usually several weeks became necessary to make something like soldiers of these very raw levies before they could be embarked for the front.
No horses were brought back from South Africa. Contingents handed them over into Remount depots prior to embarkation for Australia.
Further Reading:Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920
Citation: Boer War - Victoria, Contingents sent, 1899 - 1902, Outline